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'Life is precious,' say Indian migrants fleeing cities hit by Covid-19

The Straits Times, India, 28 April 2021 - Amid India's Covid-19 crisis, migrant workers are abandoning cities and heading for their villages in droves in a repeat of last year's exodus when the lockdown shut industries and left them jobless - but this time they are worried about safety.

India's toll from the coronavirus surged past 200,000 on Wednesday (April 28) with nearly 18 million people infected, according to government data, with the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Surat and Bangalore under lockdown.

Healthcare facilities have been overwhelmed, with hospitals over-run and shortages of oxygen, medical supplies and hospital staff.

"I was reading about all the cases and the deaths and getting worried. I still had work, but I didn't want to stay in the city," said Mr Sanjit Kumar, 30, who left Surat in western India last week on a train for his village in eastern Bihar.

"Last year, I had gone back on a truck. But this time, I didn't want to wait for a complete lockdown. I was getting scared looking at messages of deaths on WhatsApp," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from his village.

"Life is precious for everyone."



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